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Poop Problems: The Hard Truth of Constipation
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Laura Jana, MD posted:
Whenever parents express concerns about a child's potty training issues, I find the conversation is usually centered on a child's desire for independence, refusal to use the potty, and other behavioral challenges. For two-year-olds, these traits are commonly recognized obstacles to potty success, which makes for a worthwhile discussion.

Before taking on the behavioral challenges of the "terrible two's," let's think a bit more about what may be standing in the way of your child's willingness to poop in the potty.

As a pediatrician, constipation is one of the first things I check for when faced with children who stubbornly refuse to poop in the potty. That's because constipation has a distinct way of throwing a wrench in the best-laid potty training plans. Constipation also happens to be frustratingly common in young children.

Constipation can sometimes be easy to spot. But unless you know to be on the lookout for symptoms and take it seriously, it has a way of creeping up on parents and child care providers.

Once constipated, toddlers aren't often able to let you directly know that it's a problem. Some just become crabbier than usual, lack their normal appetite, and/or backslide on their potty-training progress. Some children may even seem to have diarrhea -- an ironic sign of constipation that makes sense. A hard, constipated poop can create a situation where a child has less control over what "sneaks out" around it.

It's important to recognize that trying to get a constipated kid to poop in the potty can be a painful process. It makes sense to remember that young children very quickly learn to avoid doing things that hurt.

This may seem like stating the obvious, unless you also think about seemingly defiant children who are dead set against pooping in the potty. The determination to withhold poop at all costs becomes far more understandable when a child feels constipated.

So what do you do with a potty-resistant child faced with the predicament of hard poops?

Be sympathetic. Potty training shouldn't be a painful process -- for you or your child.

Soften the situation
. Helping to soften bowel movements often simply means committing to some dietary changes. Increasing the amount of dietary fiber and/or cutting back on constipating foods such as cheese, excessive amounts of milk, and even apples or bananas in some instances may help relieve constipation.

See your pediatrician. Getting potty training back on track may require the help and support of your child's doctor.

How many of you had a potty training-resistant child that you discovered was feeling constipated? Did diet adjustment or a pediatrician's treatment help get your child back to successful potty training? Let's all discuss the "scoop on poop!"
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JB2204 responded:
My daughter, 2years 3months, had 6 days of using the potty last week. We had done all the preliminary steps over the last few months. She seemed to be doing great in the pee department and enjoyed the treats and attention. Unfortunately, she held onto the poo for 3 days, then did a massive one, some of which did end up in the potty and we were all very excited. I guess it spooked her, because she held the next one a bit longer and ended up in the hospital for an enema. Very traumatic and she's back in diapers. I couldn't care less if she is never potty trained at this stage. She is a very fussy eater and drinker and hasn't taken in much of anything since the enema. I find all the usual dietary advice for constipation frustrating. I can serve it all up and it doesn't go in. Not even water or juice. She's on a laxative but is still holding it in. There's no pressure from us at home for eating, drinking or pooping - we know her too well. She has big control issues. I have big guilt issues as a result. I obviously rushed this and feel terrible. She had constipation as a baby - I should have known better. Do I just need to wait? Will her bowels be ok? I'm so worried we did permanent damage or set her up for more problems.
 
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pales079 responded:
My daughter is 4 has on and off constipation problem. she is potty trained since 2 and pooping in pants becoming a big problem. what to do?
 
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MsBeulie responded:
My son will be three next month, and still goes someplace in the house by himself and poops in his clothes! He will go to the bathroom by himself to pee, but will not poop in the toilet. My husband and I don't know what to do at this point. Our pediatrician brushed it off and said, "My kids don't get full control of their bladder until they are around 7 or 8. Please give us better advice.


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